Spezza in decline? Jets at full strength, Draisaitl stays hot and more.
Jason Spezza is struggling? Okay, we’ll just fire him onto the wing with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Not a bad ace to keep up your sleeve but obviously the Stars would prefer not to have to use it often. The point of having Spezza is to have secondary scoring, which he hasn’t been able to provide.
Half of Spezza’s 14 point have come with the man-advantage and only four of his seven even-strength points have come away from Benn and Seguin.
Gus Katsaros recently profiled Spezza as someone in decline:
When doing predictions for the McKeen’s Yearbook, Spezza landed with the following prediction (73-26-30-56). So far, the 73 games may still be at risk, and the 26 goals would require circumstances similar to the second half blowup in ’15-16 to achieve. Topping 50 points may be the only high water mark, closer to 20 goals than 26.
I was, and am more optimistic about Spezza but I must admit that it is alarming how reliant he has been on Benn and Seguin to get his offense going. Those two should be helping drive Patrick Eaves towards fantasy relevance, not having to hoist up their $7M second line center.
I don’t like that Spezza’s shot rate has slipped. He is on pace for just 182 SOG this season, a significant drop from the 200-SOG baseline he has established over the past few years.
None of this matters until we see a healthy Jiri Hudler. I want to see the Hudler-Spezza combo before giving up. I still believe there is a dynamite second line there yet, because under the right circumstances, Spezza is explosive:
Down two centermen, including their #1, the Canadiens played one of their best games of the season. Tomas Plekanec centered the top line with Alexander Radulov and Max Pacioretty but was on the second power play unit. It could be better but with Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais both out for 6-8 weeks, Plekanec will not have more value than he will for the next month or two. No points for Plekanec but you get the vibe he will be scoring.
Andrew Shaw is the one centering the top PP unit, acting as the net-front presence. He’s been in this spot for a couple of weeks now. He has three goals and six points in his last seven games. Shaw was the net-front guy in Chicago for extended stretches but